Career Pivot To Follow Passion Lands Job Seeker in Wine Industry

Tell us about yourself and your career.
My name is Mary Lou Cummings and I started my career 30 years ago in IT, specifically data storage and search technology, and graduated to sales from there. I recently made a career choice to follow my passion, which is wine and the wine industry.

Why were you looking for a job?
I had taken a job as a wine salesperson in the Philadelphia area, selling an Italian wine portfolio to restaurants and private clubs. I decided to deepen my knowledge of the wine business – import/export, wine laws, and marketing – to catapult my career. I took a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take courses in France about the international wine trade; I thought I would land quickly from this but found the search to be more difficult than anticipated.

How did you discover PAGCG?
In March 2019, I sought out further assistance from a friend, where I ended up discovering the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group (PAGCG). She was laid off and suggested that I join the Meetup group. Through this group, I cherry-picked the topics that I found to be the most interesting to me.

How did PAGCG help you in your job search?
Because of my unique industry, I shifted my focus to functional topics such as LinkedIn and the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), where I learned about the resume black hole. The camaraderie within the organization was especially helpful because I could speak with others in similar circumstances.

How did you find your job? How long did it take?
I found my job through LinkedIn. Before I landed, I immersed myself in conferences and wine events where I eventually found my current company, a conferencing company focused on print, digital, and live marketing. I was intrigued by this company and searched them on LinkedIn and, to my surprise, I found a fitting role. I grabbed the bull by the horns and reached out to the recruiter. She got right back to me, and we took off from there, which was back in November 2019. Due to some delays, I didn’t join the company until February 2020.

What kept you motivated during the job search, especially during the downtimes?
It was tough, but I reminded myself that this was on me and that it was up to me to find a job. No one would hand me a job – I needed to own this and take charge of my career. I wanted to make my schooling in France count for myself and my family.

What were the lessons that you learned during your job search?
Be targeted in your approach. Don’t just apply to something just because it sounds good. I nearly fell back into IT because I was so desperate to find a job; however, it was apparent to both the recruiter and me that my heart was not into it. Looking back, it is not worth the effort to fall back on a job you know isn’t your passion.

Do you have any networking tips or tricks that you can share?
Follow the basics. Read about the tips and tricks, the latest and greatest, about your industry. If I saw an article that was meaningful to me, I would find the author on LinkedIn and reach out to them and say, “Hey, your article was very interesting, I would love to be a part of your network and watch you grow!” Reach out to people on LinkedIn if you are interested in what they do, volunteer for events you find interesting, do some online work, and help others.

What will you do in your new role?
My role is an account executive to sell space at our conferences, and my regions are Europe and South America. Being fluent in French, and partially in Italian, helps me perform well in my role.

What is one takeaway or nugget of wisdom that you would like to share?
No matter how many times you hear “No,” believe in your innate knowledge and talents that you can offer to others.

Reinventing or Repurposing Your Career on LinkedIn

What do you do on LinkedIn when you are pursuing or wanting to pursue a new career path? How do you portray yourself in your future forward position? This is a question I am asked a lot. 

Your past experience is your past experience and you can’t change history. However, you CAN change how you market yourself in your future forward position (aka “what you want to be when you grow up!”).

Many people know they want to follow a new career path, but they may not know exactly what they want to do. 

In this case, a career assessment might “be the first step to understanding yourself, which is the first step to pursuing your own happiness and satisfaction”, according to Marc Miller of Career Pivot.

In interviewing Sarah E. Brown Ph.D., she noted that “Good career assessments highlight some combination of interests, strengths, and needs. Different assessments place emphasis on different components. What gets us hired are the interests and strengths. What often gets us fired are the needs not getting met.

So, included in the profile should be a really good combination of what we love doing, our interests, and what we are really good at doing …  our strengths.

We do not need to include our motivational needs in the profile, but we should keep that in mind as we are screening a prospective job opportunity” or the next career move.

In reading his book, Repurpose Your Career: A Practical Guide for the 2nd Half of Life, Marc Miller stated that “the most valuable [assessment] for gaining insight into … [his] own needs was the Birkman … [as it is] like a psychic tell[ing] you things that maybe you didn’t want to know but … already sort of knew them, deep down.” To learn more about the value of the Birkman, there is a great article in Fortune magazine called “Are You  a Good Fit for Your Job?”

Once you have clarity with your future forward, think of LinkedIn like a newspaper. What sells top of the fold? The headline! 

Think of LinkedIn like a website. What sells? The attraction of the page before you start scrolling. Again … the top of the fold.

So, above the fold holds true for LinkedIn also … your headline, About section, banner, and all your new keywords need to target your new career path. They need to describe your future forward position. 

If you want to participate in a any assessments, become a Bronze or BENG member and you will have some discounts available. We offer some excellent choices that will provide you will some comprehensive data and analysis.

If you have further questions about who to contact about career assessments and providers, please email me!

AUTHOR BIO

Lynne Williams is the Executive Director of the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group, a 501(c)3 nonprofit with over 6300 members and alumni providing career education and networking. Lynne also writes for vista.today, montco.today, and delco.today.

Certified Salesforce Administrator Reinvents through Volunteering

Tell us about yourself and your career.

My name is Bill Apostolacus and I had various roles in my former company for 22 years, including data analyst and relationship manager. In 2015, I began door-to-door sales for a solar company but left after a year and a half and eventually found myself in a career transition. I discovered Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group (PAGCG), and through them, a fellow PAGCG member told me about Salesforce. I quickly got excited about it and knew that this was what I wanted to do. The organization gave me the golden opportunity to build their Salesforce system from the ground up, giving me the hands-on experience needed to succeed.

Why were you looking for a job?

I was laid off due to restructuring. It was strange having to go through all those feelings after such a long tenure. I decided to get away from the computer and do some soul searching as I was still dealing with the shock of figuring out what I wanted to do with my career. I had to ask myself, “Now what?”

How did you discover PAGCG?

I found out about the PAGCG on Meetup. Initially, I was using Meetup to find other avenues from my sales job that I was working at the time and stumbled upon this organization.

How did PAGCG help you in your job search?

Lynne Williams’ LinkedIn classes and Job Search Accelerator courses jump-started my LinkedIn profile, which was huge for me. I learned how to get LinkedIn to work for me and maintain my online presence in the job search. I didn’t realize how critical LinkedIn is for networking.

I also received general feedback on my resume and how to network with others. The Monday Malvern meetings led by Kevin Keene helped me realize that I was not alone in the job search. We were able to hold each other accountable and bounce ideas off one another – the sense of community was significant.

How did you find your job? How long did it take? 

It took a couple of years to land a full-time job. I didn’t know Salesforce at all and had to teach myself this new skill. In 2018, I had one certification and felt confident going into interviews. A year later, I had four certifications under my belt and eventually landed my job. Naturally, I built a Salesforce system to track my opportunities. I applied to 92 jobs, receiving no response at all to 33, but 59 lead to a first interview. Later, I had 26-second interviews and seven third interviews, which ended in 3 actual job offers, and I started my full-time job in September 2019. I was able to truly grasp the power of LinkedIn by letting recruiters know I was available and making sure I had a LinkedIn connection in the company before applying to the position.

What kept you motivated during the job search, especially during the downtimes?

Knowing deep down that Salesforce was what I was going to do. Salesforce has a tight-knit group that is so supportive and provided a sense of community. Eventually, I realized there were so many companies using Salesforce systems that I knew I could get hired quickly with the knowledge I’d gained. My experience gave me control over the direction of my career.

What were the lessons that you learned during your job search?

You need to approach the job search with a sales mentality. In sales, it’s all about opportunities: you must have a pipeline, you must have numbers, and you must have options out there. I always had 20 opportunities available at a time. Eventually, one of those would hit, and “No” just means “next opportunity.” At the end of the day, it’s about the stars aligning in a sense – once a company knows you have the skills, it’s about your personality and a culture fit. Lastly, if someone can refer you, you are a known candidate to that organization because once you make that connection, you already have a warm introduction made.

Do you have any networking tips or tricks that you can share?

LinkedIn is crucial. You have to be on LinkedIn, and you need to build that network to become more visible online. The more extensive that network can be, the better because recruiters use LinkedIn so often to search for candidates. Also, talk to recruiters on LinkedIn and ask yourself, “How can I help them, and how can they help me?” Offline, I would suggest going to industry-related events to meet others and let them know that you’re looking.

What will you do in your new role?

I am the Salesforce Administrator of a 700-user Salesforce system to navigate the new interface.

What is one takeaway or nugget of wisdom that you would like to share?

Think positive and feel sure about what you want to do in your career. Ageism is out there, but there is nothing you can do about it, so don’t worry about it. Find a way around it by keeping a positive attitude and networking.